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How to help your dog reach their perfect weight

How to help your dog reach their perfect weight

Just like with humans, eating a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, the right amount of food and exercising regularly are the best ways to help your dog lose weight.

Pet obesity is a big issue in NZ with around half our dogs being overweight. Certain breeds are predisposed to becoming heavy-set and this can start from as young as 6 months! Most pet obesity happens because they are fed more calories than they need. This, in combination with a lack of exercise, means excess calories are stored as fat. Here’s some tips to help your dog reach their perfect weight:

Start with their nutrition

Overfeeding your pet is one of the primary causes of excessive weight gain so switching up their diet is a great place to start. Superior Nutrition weight care diets are scientifically developed to work with your dogs’ unique biology to help burn fat & maintain a healthy body weight for a long, happy life. These premium weight care diets, such as Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight are formulated with a blend of natural ingredients, including high protein, high fibre, L-carnitine and coconut oil to help support your pet’s metabolism for healthy weight maintenance. Benefits include:

  • High protein to support lean muscle mass
  • A scientifically formulated recipe that works with your dog’s biology to help burn fat
  • A nutritionally complete and balanced diet
  • A great solution for healthy weight maintenance and long-lasting weight support

It’s important to know that Prescription Diets are also available for weight management. These are diets are prescribed by a vet and are only available from vet clinics. To help you find a suitable weight management diet for your dog, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Keep them active with exercise

Exercising your dog is another way to assist them reach their ideal weight. Have regular exercise sessions and try out different activities to keep it fun for you and your pet.

  • Go for a walk – Switch it up by going to places with different kinds of terrain and interactive obstacles like benches to balance on or logs to jump over
  • Play fetch – Grab a ball or frisbee and ramp up the intensity of this fun game by playing it on a hillside
  • Make a “dogstacle course” – Place pots, milk cartons and other obstacles around in the backyard and walk your dog through them at a quick pace
  • Climbing stairs – Healthy for your dog’s leg muscles – and yours!

Make small lifestyle changes

Avoid feeding too many treats

As much as we love our dogs and can sometimes show our affection through tasty snacks and treats, it’s best to avoid feeding them too many. You should also take care to only feed them treats that are made for dogs rather than slipping them some human food. Keep in mind that many of the foods we regularly eat are not healthy for dogs and some can even be toxic. To make sure your dog doesn’t consume too many calories, ensure that no more than 10% of their daily calories comes from dog treats. We don’t want our pooches going backwards on their journey to a healthier weight!

Consider a slow feeder bowl

If your dog wolfs down their food at mealtimes, consider switching their food bowl to a slow feeder bowl. Slow feeder bowls help increase the time it takes for dogs to finish their food by ensuring they properly chew their food and can help with reducing bloating, better digestion and less gas. Slow feeder bowls can also act as a little puzzle to make dinner-times more fun and mentally stimulating.

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

If you’re concerned that your dog is overweight, check for some of the symptoms. If any of the below statements are true then your pet may be overweight:

  • It’s difficult to feel their ribs or spine
  • It’s difficult to see a defined waist
  • Their abdomen (tummy) is sagging

You can also look out for signs in their behaviour that indicate that they could be overweight. Does your dog…

  • Often appear tired and lazy?
  • Lag behind on walks?
  • Pant constantly?
  • Need help getting in the car?
  • Resist playing games?
  • Bark without getting up?

Health risks for overweight dogs

Unfortunately, being overweight is not just a cosmetic problem. Extra weight presents a significant danger to a dog’s health. Overweight dogs face increased risks of serious diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis and urinary tract disease.

What’s more, people who over-feed their dogs may actually be shortening their dog’s lifespan. Studies have shown that dogs who maintain an ideal weight can live two years longer than dogs whose diets and weights are not monitored.

Many of us don’t realise that our pets have a weight problem, and even when we do, we may not be aware of how much it can affect their health and well-being.

If you think your dog is overweight, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic to discuss which food is the best for them and other ways that you can help them achieve their perfect weight.

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